Last month, news reports began to surface regarding 21st Century FOX interested in selling off the majority of their film & TV properties to Disney. Though said talks eventually stalled, they began to heat up again recently and the blockbuster announcement was finally made this past Thursday (December 14th 2017).
The deal, reported at $66 billion, will send properties like the X-Men, Fantastic Four & Deadpool back to Disney along with Avatar, The Simpsons, The Alien franchise & many more. When the initial talks first surfaced, I wrote an article about whether the comic properties would be a good fit in the MCU. Though most fanboys and fangirls everywhere will welcome these heroes with open arms, the question of fit is certainly an interesting one to ponder. Let’s take a look at how Disney can fit these newly acquired properties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Let’s start out with the merc with a mouth, Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds did an amazing job portraying the potty-mouthed mutant in the first solo film back in 2016, making a solid $783 million worldwide. The hard R-rating didn’t stop fans from coming out in droves to see a different kind of superhero movie. With Deadpool coming into the MCU, would he still be the same Deadpool we’ve grown to love?
After the acquisition, Disney CEO Bob Iger assured us all that Deadpool would remain an R-rated property, which is what the fans want. But how will he fit into a shared universe with the rest of the Avengers? In terms of simply putting him into the universe, Deadpool’s case could be one of the simplest ones. Deadpool is a character that frequently breaks the fourth wall in the comics and in his first film. He knows that he’s a comic book character and mentions relevant pop cultural happenings. Simply plopping Deadpool into the current MCU will be an easy transition in terms of the universe he inhabits. Things could get messy if he appears in a team-up style film with other PG-13 characters, but it’s a fun problem to have. Expect plenty of vulgar Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess jokes after Deadpool arrives into the MCU after Deadpool 2, which is hitting theatres next June.
Fans were made to sit through two terrible Tim Story-directed Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007, respectively, but things got even worse when Josh Trank attempted to revitalize the franchise in 2015. Now that the First Family of Marvel is heading back home, how will they be introduced?
The backstory regarding how Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben got their powers revolves around them traveling into space and being exposed to cosmic radiation. This event could take place either in current time or set in the past. If set in the past, the team could be shown to have gotten trapped in the parallel universe known as the Negative Zone in the comics, preventing them from returning to earth after initially gaining their powers.
Going back to the premise that their introduction is set in current time, the prospect of having the Avengers Tower becoming the Baxter Building is very intriguing. As shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark has sold Avengers Tower, as their new base of operations is now in upstate New York. But who did he sell to? Could it become Oscorp? Tying the Fantastic Four into this universe could reveal that it has been sold to Reed Richards.
Along with the main team, the Fantasic Four property also includes characters like Silver Surfer, Galactus and Doctor Doom, among others. With Thanos being the biggest big bad in the current MCU, what will the future hold after Thanos is (assumedly) defeated? A cosmic villain like Galactus would be a perfect fit to replace the Mad Titan atop the hierarchy of threats to the universe. On a smaller scale, Doctor Doom could be an incredible foil to any and all heroes in the MCU.
With James Gunn continuing the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and spearheading future space-based Marvel films, the Silver Surfer is a perfect addition to what’s to come. Incorporating him into storylines with the likes of alien races like the Kree, Chitauri, Badoon, and Skrulls, the possibilities for more cosmic-centric films has increased exponentially.
The X-Men franchise has seen its share of ups and downs since it first debuted back in 2000. While films like the original X-Men, X-2, First Class, Days of Future Past and Logan have been very solid films, the converse can be said about X-3, Origins and Apocalypse. With new X-films set to release next year with the likes of Dark Phoneix, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, putting these characters into the MCU as they currently are would be nearly impossible.
As with Fantastic Four and Deadpool, the X-Men occupy a completely separate universe. Though there are “powered people” and Inhumans in the MCU, the term “mutant” is not in the dictionary. Kevin Feige cannot simply drop the X-Men as they are right into the mix. Characters like Apocalypse, Magneto and Wolverine have been around for a very long time. Knowing this fact, how could they be explained away as to have always been in this world?
The only logical way to put the current X-Men into the current MCU would be some sort of reality-changing event. With Avengers: Infinity War releasing next May and Avengers 4 the year after, it is conceivable that Thanos warps reality with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and accompanying stones. The premise of multiple worlds and parallel universes has been discussed in the MCU by Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor: The Dark World and even on the current season of Agents of SHIELD. Though this could be an easy fix, it could also cause logistical problems. Does Kevin Feige WANT the current actors and actresses reprising their roles? Does he WANT the previous X-continuity to remain canon? And what about the two different versions of Quicksilver?
If the answer is no, the only other option would be to completely reboot the X-Men. Introducing a completely new roster of mutants would be the only way to go on this one. The X-gene will have to be something completely new, coming by way of genetic manipulation, a virus, or something extra-terrestrial. All mutants in this scenario would have to just be getting their powers, so expansive backstories for Magneto and Wolverine would not exist as we know them.
The MCU Post-Infinity War
Before this deal went through, Kevin Feige previously stated that there are currently 20 new films in development. After next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, we’re getting Ant-Man & The Wasp, Captain Marvel and the currently untitled Avengers 4. Keeping the trend of sequels going, one would assume that Black Panther will at least get a sequel if not a trilogy. The same can be said for Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting a third film).
With current plans for a giant slate of upcoming films, would Feige and Marvel/Disney want to reboot the entire universe to accommodate for the newly acquired properties? The complexity of this new process of fitting these new additions is extremely difficult and will take a lot of hard work.
There are a lot of moving parts to all of this and it will be a lot of fun to follow over the next few years. Each upcoming Comic-Con and D-23 events will most likely be our look into Kevin Feige’s plans. Though fitting all of these new characters into the MCU in some capacity will be a problem, it’s certainly a good problem to have.
If the MCU is rebooted entirely, fans should take time to appreciate what we have gotten since 2008 when Iron Man first hit the big screen. This expansive world has given us hours and hours of enjoyment in both film and television form (except for Inhumans). The time of speculation is now upon us all.
Now that the news has broken, how do you see these new characters fitting into the MCU? Do you want the current X-Men ushered in? Do you want to see these properties rebooted? Does the MCU need to be burnt down and rise from the ashes like a phoenix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.